Röyksopp – The Inevitable End

The Inevitable End isn’t the inevitable end of Röyksopp as a recording entity; the grimly titled album was their farewell to the album as the format in which they’d be releasing their work. That’s a very sad farewell indeed, because some of Röyksopp’s back catalog, including Melody A.M. and Junior, convinced me that maybe the album still had something to offer, and that the entire world wasn’t giving up to the whims of streaming and issuing singles only. And ironically, The Inevitable End falls into that category as well – an album so thematically cohesive that listening to it in one sitting is more rewarding than just hearing any one song from it in isolation.

The theme that recurs most often on The Inevitable End doesn’t become evident until you’re a couple of songs past the inevitable beginning. Beginning with “Sordid Affair”, whose subject matter is quite literally what it says on the box, the album seems to be chronicling different stages and perspectives of an extramarital relationship of some kind. (I always question this as subject matter for a song, especially since the songwriter’s going to be subjected to a lot of scrutiny afterward, i.e. “did you write this as a result of a personal experience?” “Sordid Affair” and “Compulsion” describe the rush of the illicit relationship while it’s happening, and “You Know I Have To Go” and “Save Me” explore the end of it from two perspectives. “I Had This Thing” mourns the relationship, and in a way, “Rong” does too, being an almost classically-flavored piece with a single repeating lyric (“what the f___ is wrong with you?”).

Röyksopp has become famous for its all-star line-up of guest vocalists, and while Robyn is all over the first two tracks of The Inevitable End, the real standout MVP who emerges is Jamie Irrepressible, vocalist on “You Know I Have To Go”, “I Had This Thing”, “Compulsion”, and “Here She Comes Again”. He’s got an incredible range and a great sense for dynamics, as his usual hushed delivery on “I Had This Thing” suddenly explodes into something more pleading and anguished toward the end of the song. (Spoiler: Röyksopp has continued as an entity that issues singles, and they continued to work with Jamie after this album, notably on the excellent “Something In My Heart”, so obviously they know a good thing when they hear it.)

“Coup De Grace” deflates the album’s somewhat steamy topic, filling the obligatory instrumental-only slot that’s become a tradition since “Röyksopp’s Night Out” on the first album. The album closer (and the farewell of Röyksopp as a duo that turns out albums) is “Thank You”, which works as effectively as part of the album’s storyline as it does without any of those trappings.

4 out of 4I’ll really miss Röyksopp as an “album band” – their best work has reminded me of the heyday of the Alan Parsons Project, both production-wise and as proponents of concept-based theme albums. It’s sad to hear them giving up on the latter. The singles that have arrived since The Inevitable End have been fantastic – “Never Ever” and “Something In My Heart” would be highlights of an album if they were on an album. But, I get it, album sales aren’t what drives iTunes…especially if no one wants to continue making them.

Order this CD

  1. Skulls (3:46)
  2. Monument (TIE Version)(featuring Robyn) (4:46)
  3. Sordid Affair (featuring Man Without Country) (6:19)
  4. You Know I Have To Go (featuring Jamie Irrepressible) (7:31)
  5. Save Me (featuring Susanne Sundfør) (4:38)
  6. I Had This Thing (featuring Jamie Irrepressible) (5:46)
  7. Rong (featuring Robyn) (2:32)
  8. Here She Comes Again (featuring Jamie Irrepressible) (5:04)
  9. Running To The Sea (featuring Susanne Sundfør) (4:52)
  10. Compulsion (featuring Jamie Irrepressible) (6:57)
  11. Coup De Grace (3:14)
  12. Thank You (6:15)

Released by: EMBAS
Release date: November 21, 2014
Total running time: 61:40